LCVs now account for 11.4% of vehicles on UK roads – the highest percentage ever recorded, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It said this came after a year in 2020 where the number of LCVs on the road rose by 1.7%, for the 11thconsecutive year of growth.
This meant a total of 4,604,861 LCVs in use at the end of the year.
LCVs were the only vehicle category to see an increase, with declines in the numbers of cars, HGVs, and buses, reflecting trends attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The average LCV is now just under eight years old, with a considerable number of older vehicles still in operation – around 725,000 were first registered in 2005 or earlier.
Combined, battery electric and plug-in hybrid LCVs account for just 0.3% of those on the road – four times lower than the proportion of cars with those powertrains.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The past year has highlighted how much Britain relies on its commercial vehicle parc. With less than nine years to go until the end of sale of new petrol and diesel vans, much needs to be done to avoid a long fossil fuel hangover from operators resisting the switch.
“Fleet renewal must be a high priority for the commercial vehicle sector and the government's Bus Back Better strategy must be implemented immediately to reverse the decline in bus operations.”
The most common LCV on UK roads is the Ford Transit, with 532,821 examples in operation, ahead of the Volkswagen Caddy with 515,853, the Ford Transit Custom with 336,239, the Vauxhall Vivaro with 248,538, and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with 239,936.